Mining Movies - Technology and Learning Magazine


Minority Report and the New Body Language

Once you get past the duck pond filled with floating psychics, Minority Report gets under your skin the way a good movie should. It’s set in the future during a time when Washington, D.C. has adopted an approach to law enforcement called “Precrime,” arresting people before they commit crimes that the floating psychics – called precogs - can see are about to happen. It’s Tom Cruise’s job as Police Captain John Anderton to capture the bad guys before they actually go bad. He does, but alas, in this world the thought is as bad as the deed. The wannabe-criminals are hauled off to spend their days of incarceration in suspended animation.

Like most movies that deal with seeing the future, Minority Report is ultimately about fate vs. free will, centralized control vs. civil rights, and, above all, really cool tech.

Like the ubiquitous eye scanning technology that recognizes people as they enter stores, subways, buildings – just about everywhere. It’s technology that touches our hopes of reaching individual students within their own constructivist domains, while pushing every Big Brother button we have. Honorable mention goes to the “sick stick” that makes people vomit on contact, which no doubt will become standard issue for bouncers some day.

But the star of Minority Report is Tom Cruise’s computer, which uses hand and body motion as the primary ways of moving and controlling images on his screen. Imagine iMovie with a Tai Chi feature and you get the idea. As Cruise waves his arms around like an orchestra conductor, you realize the inevitability of new machines that use expressive kinesthetic interfaces, bringing one more multiple intelligence into play. One day sitting behind a computer could yield to dancing with your computer. And perhaps body language will become the second language of the majority.